The Role of Acculturation in the Civic Engagement of Latino Immigrants

Cristina Michele Tucker, Anna Maria Santiago

Abstract


Despite continued growth and dispersion of the Latino immigrant population in the United States, the lingering effects of a sluggish national economy and growing anti-immigrant sentiments have contributed to ongoing marginalization and exclusion, further hindering their participation in American civic life. Despite these challenges, Latino immigrants have remained engaged, yet the factors and processes that facilitate participation in American society remain poorly understood. Data from the Latino National Survey and focus groups with Latino immigrants were used to examine how variations in levels of acculturation, demographic characteristics, socioeconomic status (SES), and characteristics of the immigrant experience influence the civic engagement of Latino immigrants in American society. We found that citizenship, length of residence in the United States, and higher SES enhanced civic engagement, while brown skin color, migration for economic reasons, and Mexican ancestry decreased participation. The level of acculturation significantly moderated the effects of these contextual factors.

Keywords


Civic engagement, acculturation, Latinos, incorporation, immigration

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